Covers the study of (mostly homogeneous) macroscopic systems from a heat/energy/entropy point of view. Maybe combine with [tag:statistical-mechanics].

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Why does hitting a cold bag of water freeze?

About 24 hours ago, I bought a box of 30 pieces water ice. I put them in the freezing compartment and when I came from work I was expecting a nice chilling ice. But when I opened the freezer, I saw ...
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344 views

Would this pump water up? and if so, how far?

I had this idea of an osmotic pump way back in high school and I never got a satisfactory answer if it would work. If I had this configuration: Would it continually pump water up given ambient ...
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592 views

Is thermal noise “quantum random”?

Is the randomness that can be extracted from thermal noise "as random" (that is, even theoretically inaccessible to measurement according to our knowledge of quantum mechanics, and not just random for ...
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372 views

Is “equilibrium state” equivalent to “well-defined state variables”?

Follow up to Intuitively, why is a reversible process one in which the system is always at equilibrium? and How slow is a reversible adiabatic expansion of an ideal gas? Suppose you have a ...
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261 views

What is the pressure of a charged gas?

I have $N$ ${\rm H}^+$ gas molecules in a sealed, electrically insulated container. What equation can I use to accurately calculate the pressure of the gas? It seems to me that $PV = nRT$ will not ...
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333 views

In a large city how much hotter on average is it outside due to the air conditioning of all the buildings?

Title pretty much states the question. How much hotter do air conditioning units make it outside in a large city like NYC, Chicago, etc?
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Surface energy as thermodynamic potential

Consider free energy of sharp interface $\Gamma$ $$ \int_\Gamma \sigma\;\mathrm{d}S $$ or also free energy of diffuse interface of characteristic width $\epsilon$ given by Cahn-Hilliard/Allen-Cahn ...
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211 views

What are the implications for the AdS/Cft program if AdS is unstable?

To my understanding recent progress in the study of the non linear stability of AdS spacetime suggest that $AdS$ might be unstable. If this is true, what are the physical and mathematical ...
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919 views

Mechanical Equivalent of Heat

Recently I have been looking up James Joule's experiment regarding the mechanical equivalent of heat. After viewing some drawings of the apparatus, I assumed that the lines holding the weights would ...
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3k views

How can I understand a Vortex Tube and its efficiency?

A Vortex Tube takes a pressurized input stream, most typically of a gas, and creates two output streams with a temperature differential. Apparently, it has been described as a Maxwell's Demon. Both ...
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Thermal equilibrium in general relativity

The Newtonian condition for thermal equilibrium for a static system is $T = \mathrm{const}$. In this homework I'm asked to show that it's curved space generalization is $T(-g_{00})^{\frac{1}{2}} = ...
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Entropy of the Sun

Is it possible to measure or calculate the total entropy of the Sun? Assuming it changes over time, what are its current first and second derivatives w.r.t. time? What is our prediction on its ...
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Is “dark clothes for winter, light for summer” relevant?

We are told to wear light clothes in summer as they are better at reflecting sunshine and keeping us cool. And dark clothes absorb sunshine and keep us warm. But is it really relavent? If I buy ...
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870 views

Is there a relativity-compatible thermodynamics?

I am just wondering that laws in thermodynamics are not Lorentz invariant, it only involves the $T^{00}$ component. Tolman gave a formalism in his book. For example, the first law is replaced by the ...
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3k views

Why does the low entropy at the big bang require an explanation? (cosmological arrow of time)

I have read Sean Carrol's book. I have listened to Roger Penrose talk on "Before the Big Bang". Both are offering to explain the mystery of low entropy, highly ordered state, at the Big Bang. Since ...
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What temperature can you attain with a solar furnace?

A solar furnace is a device that concentrates the sun's light on a small point to heat it up to high temperature. One can imagine that in the limit of being completely surrounded by mirrors, your ...
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334 views

evidence on the equation of state for dark energy?

If dark energy contributes mass-energy density $\rho$ and pressure $p$ to the stress-energy tensor, then you can define $w=p/\rho$, where $w=-1$ gives a cosmological constant, $w<-1$ gives a big ...
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484 views

Can we detect whether food has previously been heated in a microwave oven?

An acquaintance told me that she refuses to eat microwaved food because she read that the microwave changes the molecules of the food somehow. Her statement is vague and her sources are dubious but I ...
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Does a cooling mass lose mass as it radiates?

Assume we have a red hot cannonball in space. It starts off with mass M at 1000K. Later it has cooled by radiation to 100K. Has the mass decreased?
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Black and white matters. But why and how?

I know black conducts heat while white reflects it. But they are colors after all. If a metal is painted black, it conducts more heat or at a rapid speed than it would do before it was coated. But, ...
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19k views

Why does hot oil explode when pouring water on it?

What is the reason that hot oil makes sound and explodes when water is poured on it?
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3k views

Should I heat my room when I'm not here, energy-efficiently speaking?

I was wondering as it's getting cold : is it better for my electricity bill to shut down completely my (electric) heater during day, and to turn it on again when I come home (then it will have to heat ...
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799 views

Why must the particles of an ideal gas be point-like?

Why is a gas of elastically colliding hard balls of finite size not ideal? Respectively: Why is it essential that the particles of an ideal gas are point-like? Especially: Which ...
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625 views

Why things get dry (meaning from water)? [duplicate]

When I leave wet clothes in the open air, they will get dry over time by themselves even at room temperature. I know that somehow the water becomes vaporized; it's not "disappearing". For that, it ...
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661 views

Where does the joules come from (ideal gas constant)?

I have not done any physics in ages and have recently started studying it. The first chapter in my book deals with the ideal gas constant: $$pV=nRT$$ It is rewritten as: $$R=\frac{pV}{nT}$$ When I ...
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Why does pizza cheese seem hotter than the crust?

When I eat hot pizza or a melted cheese sandwich, the cheese feels a lot hotter than the crust or bread: in particular, the cheese might scald the roof of my mouth. but the crust will not. Is this ...
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How is thermodynamic entropy defined? What is its relationship to information entropy?

I read that thermodynamic entropy is a measure of the number of microenergy states. What is the derivation for $S=k\log N$, where $k$ is Boltzmann constant, $N$ number of microenergy states. How is ...
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How long does it take an iceberg to melt in the ocean?

This is a quantitative question. The problem is inspired by this event: On August 5, 2010, an enormous chunk of ice, roughly 97 square miles (251 square kilometers) in size, broke off the Petermann ...
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763 views

Definition of the entropy

In physics, the word entropy has important physical implications as the amount of "disorder" of a system. In mathematics, a more abstract definition is used. The (Shannon) entropy of a variable $X$ is ...
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Second law of thermodynamics and the arrow of time: why isn't time considered fundamental?

I've come across this explanation that the "arrow of time" is a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics, which says that the entropy of an isolated system is always increasing. The argument is ...
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Does placing a lid on a pot affect the rate of boiling?

On the subject of cooking, someone once told me "If you have too much water in your pot after cooking a dish, just turn up the heat and let it boil without a lid for a few minutes". Now I've thought ...
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Is speed an intensive property?

I remember being taught in elementary physics that while it makes sense to add volumes, masses, or heat, it makes no sense to add temperatures. As I wanted to use that to illustate some other issue, ...
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769 views

Existence of negative temperatures and the definition of entropy

How negative temperatures can be possible has been treated on StackExchange before (several times in fact), but in light of some recent academic discussion, most of these answers seem to be possibly ...
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Camp Fire Crackle

I was sitting around the camp fire and there was a periodic sound of cracking and pieces of the burning wood flew off. My question is what is the mechanism for the cracking of the wood? I was thinking ...
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Is energy the ability to do work?

Here was my argument against this, the second law of thermodynamics, in effect says that, there is no heat engine that can take all of some energy that was transferred to it by heat and do work on ...
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Entropy increase vs Conservation of information (QM)

Unitarity of quantum mechanics prohibits information destruction. On the other hand, the second law of thermodynamics claims entropy to be increasing. If entropy is to be thought of as a measure of ...
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Internal energy of an ideal gas as a function of volume

Okay so I've been reading a bit on Thermodynamics and I found something that I couldn't wrap around my head. For an ideal gas, the change in internal energy is equal to $$\Delta U = Q + W$$ And ...
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Why does a short circuit generate fire?

When a short circuit occurs it's obvious that there is fire. How come electric energy turns out to be heat energy? What causes the conductors to get hot when short circuit is present.
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680 views

Doesn't the use of a thermometer alter the temperature of the system?

If I place a mercury thermometer in hot water, heat energy will transfer from the water to the mercury inside the thermometer. Will this continue until thermal equilibrium is reached and thus the ...
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What made the keys in my pocket so hot?

Not sure where to ask this question - thought you guys would probably have the best idea! Today a single key on my keychain in my pocket heated up so that it was too hot to handle and scalded my leg. ...
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968 views

How to work out the relation between the “mean relative speed” and the “mean speed”?

I'm a freshman and am taking the general physics course. I just learned intro thermodynamics. One problem that really puzzles me is the calculation of "collision mean-free path", where calculating the ...
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964 views

Hot water freezing faster than cold water

This question has puzzled me for a long time. There is already a question like this on Physics.SE. John's answer to the question seems quite satisfying. But when I googled the cause I found this and ...
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461 views

Strange behaviour of water drops on a heated pan

I did an experiment in my home and I was surprised by the results. I heated a pan without anything in it. After some time it became very hot and I took some water (2 drops) and put it into the pan. It ...
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588 views

Chemical potential in Thermodynamics

In many scenarios, on computing the partial derivative of the internal energy (U) with respect to mole number (N) is negative. This implies that adding more moles of the substance decreases the U of ...
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Efficiency of Stirling engine and Carnot's theorem

I want to calculate the efficiency of this Stirling cycle for an ideal gas $pV = nRT$ The mechanical work is $$ \Delta W_{12} = - \int_{V_1}^{V_2} p(V) \mathrm{d}V = -nRT_2 \ln \frac{V_2}{V_1}\\ ...
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Why did my frozen water bottle explode when I opened it after it defrosted a bit?

Last night I filled a 20 fl oz bottle (http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/beverages/soft-drinks/boylans-mash.asp) with lukewarm water from my tap. I filled the bottle pretty much to the brim, ...
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Recommendations for Statistical Mechanics book

I learned thermodynamics and the basics of statistical mechanics but I'd like to sit through a good advanced book/books. Mainly I just want it to be thorough and to include all the math. And of course ...
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Maxwell's Demon Constant (Information-Energy equivalence)

New Scientist article: Summon a 'demon' to turn information into energy The speed of light c converts between space and time and also appears in e=mc^2. Maxwell's Demon can turn information supplied ...
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What conditions do a bunch of atoms need to satisfy to have a temperature?

What conditions do a bunch of atoms need to satisfy to have a temperature? Suppose that we have a beam of helium atoms travelling in a common straight line, equally spaced with the same velocity. If ...